Monday, September 24, 2018

How Many Banned Books Have You Read?

Do you know it's Banned Books Week?

According to the American Library Association, here is a listing of ten classic books that are subject to being banned in American schools.  How many have you read?  Pick up a banned book this week and celebrate the freedom to read!!




1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

2. The Catcher in the Rye

3. To Kill a Mockingbird

4. Bridge to Terabithia

5. The Lord of the Flies

6. Of Mice and Men

7. The Color Purple

8. Harry Potter Series

9. Slaughterhouse Five

10. The Bluest Eye

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hooking Reluctant Readers: A Guide for Parents

            Hearing the words, “I hate to read!” can be a parental nightmare, conjuring up images of below basic standardized test scores, remedial classes, or worse – dropping out of school and not going to college.  Yet, it is a universal reality that many parents have reluctant reading spawn – even those parents who firmly classify themselves as voracious readers.  When I meet with parents at conferences, the following scenario is not at all uncommon:

            “What can we do about Tommy?  My husband loves to read.  I love to read.  Tommy’s older sister loves to read.  Tommy’s younger brother loves to read.  The dog loves to read.  But Tommy hates to read!  I don’t understand it.  Help us – Pleeeeease!”

            Seeing the panic in their eyes, I tell the parents the first step is to determine if their child is in fact a reluctant reader (R.R.) or just a passionless one.  To determine where the child is on the Reluctant Reader Richter scale, I ask three questions:

1 - Does your child avoid reading whenever possible?
2 - Does your child complain when doing it?
3 - Does your child have little to no retention or comprehension when they are finished?

            If the answer is yes to all three questions, I tell them it is safe to assume that their child is in fact allergic to books.  And that’s when I smile and say, “Let’s give them an antihistamine they’re going to love.”
         
RR Strategy#1 - Ownership

            Parents should allow children to choose their own books.  If children “see” themselves in what they read, they will naturally become more interested in reading.  Guide your child to books classified as Hi/Lo (High interest / Low Level).  These books have major RR appeal: humor, a face paced plot, kid relevance, and visual appeal.  I also encourage parents to give their child a monthly or weekly book allowance so they can start their own personal library.  Make their bedroom a literary lair by preparing a reading corner with comfy pillows and beanbags.  Decorate the walls with book cover posters or have your child design their own.

RR Strategy #2 - Keep It Fun!

            Eventually kids will read independently, but before they to, they need to have a series of positive experiences.  Make reading relaxing and low key.  Allow them to read graphic novels, joke books, and choose-your-own adventure books.  Encourage them to read aloud funny or interesting parts of the book.  Utilize technology and download audio or e-books.  Dispel any Rigid Reading Rules your child has picked up in the past.  For example, it’s okay not to finish a book.  I even tell my students I have my own page 7 rule.  If a book doesn’t grab me by page 7, I put it down and choose something else.  A reluctant reader might have a page 1 or 2 rule, and that’s okay.  On the flip side, it’s okay to reread a favorite book, as this builds fluency and confidence through repetition.  Be patient with your child and don’t EVER use reading as a form of punishment.  Remember, positive associations are essential.

RR Strategy #3 – Be a Buddy

            Finally, be your child’s reading buddy. Schedule regular library or local bookstore visits.  Assist with comprehension in a disarming way by asking open-ended questions:


·      Why do you think the character did __________________?
·      What would you change the title to?
·      Who would you want as a best friend?
·      What was your favorite part?

When your child has a book report at school, work with the teacher to ensure a positive experience.  Ask if they can choose their own book and if extra time is needed, request an extension.  Most teachers understand the plight of the reluctant reader and want to be a part of the solution.

            A love of reading is a lifelong gift parents can give their children.  Like any pursuit, some children are more receptive than others.  Nevertheless, by giving your child ownership, making reading, fun, and being a partner in child’s journey as a reader, your reluctant reader will turn voracious in no time.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Join Me at Killer Nashville



Join me Saturday, August 25th, at the Killer Nashville Writers Conference as I present about writing suspense for Young Adults.



Saturday, August 25th, 2018 
Embassy Suites Hotel - Franklin, TN

Event description: The Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference was created in 2006 by author/filmmaker Clay Stafford in an effort to bring together forensic experts, writers, and fans of crime and thriller literature.  It is indeed a killer conference (pun intended!) as aspiring and established writers connect with other industry professionals at panel discussions, breakout sessions, agent/editor roundtables, a moonshine and wine tasting party, and a killer mock crime scene!  Let the thrills and chills begin!!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

20 Ways to Collaborate With Your Literacy Coach

After twenty years in the classroom, this school year I will be transitioning from English teacher to literacy coach.  In the past, I have worked with some amazing coaches who inspired, collaborated, and brought out the best in teachers and some not-so-wonderful coaches who took extended coffee breaks only to discuss the latest rose ceremony on The Bachelor.   I’m hoping to be the first type (not that there is anything wrong with The Bachelor)!

Coaching is a collaborative process that has the potential to maximize learning and enhance classroom instruction.  However, many teachers are apprehensive about working with coaches, especially if trust and confidentiality have not been firmly established.  That said, a literacy coach can be your most valuable go-to resource.  Specifically, a coach can help with planning, data analysis, and that oh-so-important non-evaluative instructional feedback.  (Isn’t it better to know you’re not providing sufficient wait time before your unannounced observation?)

Literacy coaches want nothing more than to build on your instructional strengths, helping you be the best in the classroom.  If you don’t think you possibly have enough time in the day to collaborate with your literacy coach, think again!  Most coaches have clocked in hundreds of lessons, strategies, and assessments and understand what comes with the daily challenges of teaching like no one else in the building.  Through their experience and expertise, they can help you work more efficiently, cogitate on lessons, and close the achievement gap because that is exactly what they are trained to do.  

Whether you are a first year teacher or a seasoned veteran, make it a goal this year to work closely with your literacy coach.  By engaging in a trusted partnership, you will naturally refine and reflect on your own instructional practice.  Not sure how to start the process?  Below are twenty ways to initiate collaboration with your literacy coach:  

20 Ways to Initiate Collaboration 

1) I’m starting a novel unit on (____________________title of book).  Would you help me brainstorm a kick-off activity that will spark interest?

2) These are my latest benchmark scores.  Will you help me analyze my students’ data for strengths and weaknesses?

3) I need a new strategy for teaching vocabulary besides drill and kill.  Do you have any go-to’s?

4) Will you observe my class for questioning patterns?  I always feel like the same students answer whenever we have a discussion. 

5) I need to make new reading groups based on differentiated ability level.  Can you look over this data and assist me?

6) I want to try close reading annotation of complex texts but need some guidance.  Do you have any suggestions for resources?  

7) Do you have any good rubrics for narrative writing?  (or expository, argumentative, descriptive, etc.)

8) Will you help me evaluate my students’ group projects?  I need a second set of eyes.  

9) I’ve been thinking our department could benefit from a study group but am too overwhelmed to lead it.  Are you interested?

10)  My evaluation is coming up next week.  Can I show you my lesson plan?

11)  I need a quick formative assessment to check for understanding before ending my lesson.  Can you help me?

12)  A few of my students just are not getting the concept of active/passive voice (or another skill).  Can you come in and do a small group lesson?

13)  I’m doing a gallery walk today and want some feedback on student engagement.  Can you come in and share your observations?

14)  I’m feeling overwhelmed with the next nine week’s Scope and Sequence?  Can you help me plan?

15)  My students do not understand the importance of transitional phrases.  Would you like to co-teach a writing lesson together?

16)  I could use some professional development on using anchor charts in the classroom.  Can we have a session during the next PD day?

17)  My morning meetings are getting stale.  Do you have some SEL ideas that will set a positive tone for the day?

18)  My Tier 1 RTI class has off-the-chart scores but is bored.  Do you have any inspiring PBL activities?

19)  I want to set some new instructional goals for the next nine weeks.  Can you help?

20)  So what did you think of the last episode of The Bachelor?  Let’s process…



As posted on Edutopia:  



Friday, June 22, 2018

10 Not So Cringey Self-Promotion Ideas

Confession: No word gives me more angst than the boastful, hyphenated noun “self-promotion.”  I find the humble brag unsavory, so the thought of soliciting book sales from my middle school crush on Facebook is downright creepy.  Moreover, prowling around on social media websites in search of new friends and followers is a complete time suck.

“That’s it.  Self-promotion isn’t for me,” I confided to an author friend the night at my first book release party.  Biting into a salmon mousse canapé, she smirked amusingly - as if she knew so much better.  (Spoiler Alert: She did!)

Not wanting to rain on my cutesy appetizer-filled book parade, she later called to readjust my oh-so-naive and erroneous ways: “Author can not live by canapé alone.  You wanted to get into this racket.  Own the angst and sell yourself like a Gold Rush harlot!”

Touché.  Self-promotion is fraught with the cringiest of awkward moments, but my more experienced comrade was right.  Combing the social media circuit in search of friends, followers, and readers isn’t just necessary; it’s an integral part of the average author’s day.  I consoled myself with one small, comforting thought:  I can at least be smart about it.

Smart is always easier said than done.  Nonetheless, through a steady upswing of sales, a myriad of book signings, and more hours on social media than I care to admit, I managed to snag some amazing opportunities – all thanks to shameless self-promotion.  Never, for instance, did I think I would interview on an NBC morning show, speak to a room full of two hundred people, or have a tiny pigtailed fan beg me to write a sequel (which, of course, is the best accolade an author can ask for)!

I’ve made peace with self-promotion as a necessary evil that perhaps can’t be cured, but most certainly treated.  Furthermore, when played right, self-promotion can have a resounding ROI - Return on Investment when guided by a few rules:

Rule #1: Fortify your brand with a basic media kit.  The key essentials include an author website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and some eye-catching business cards.  Invest in a quality headshot taken by a professional photographer that can be used for your website and various promo ops.

Rule #2 – Always show gratitude and be professional – no matter what!  If no one shows up for a book signing, write a gracious thank you note to your host.  Ditto for author presentations.  Speak to your audience, no matter how meager the turnout, as though they are the V.I.P.’s of the world.  Hyper-prepare and be professional at all times, especially online.  It may be tempting to post snarky political comments or an old risqué college pic, but you are bound to offend someone – possibly an ardent agent or esteemed editor.  Don’t! Do! It!

Rule #3 – Choose wisely.  Promotion opportunities, especially ones with an excessive price tag, should be vetted carefully.  Book marketers and publicists will haggle you 24/7 with promises to make you the next Stephenie Meyer, only to drain you emotionally and financially.  Opt for affordable opportunities with a high ROI.

To that end, below are ten smart, economical, and (practically) cringe-less ways to promote yourself, your brand, and your books.



10 (Practically) Cringe-less Self-Promo Ideas 

1) Start weekly Twitter chats with readers.

2) Keyword your blog posts.

3) Create a monthly newsletter with news of upcoming events.

4) Post pictures of fans reading your book.

5) Host a book release party.  (Don’t forget the canapés!)

6) Create a Meet the Author or Writer Meetup group.

7) Provide a book link in your email signature.

8) Write magazine articles that your niche audience might read.

9) Post short stories on your blog.

10)  Contact your alma mater. They might be willing to do a story on you.


Now put down the salmon mousse canapé and go sell yourself like a Gold Rush harlot, you brilliant author you!
 (Publishers Weekly, May 2, 2016)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Sensational Teen and Tween Summer Reads

As we all fondly recall, summer vacation is the ultimate!  Staying up late into the night, basking in the golden sun, slurping up frothy ice cream concoctions, and yes - hopefully reading a good book or two or three...or three in one day.  And why not?  It's summer, after all.

Here is a list of twelve of my 2018 fave summer reads for tweens and teens.  The list includes some classics and some contemporary, depending on personal choice.  Either way, tweens/teens will have a blast getting their read on!!!



Kimberly's 2018 Summer Reading List for Tweens and Teens


1) The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver

2) Lord of the Flies - William Golding

3) The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

4) Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

5) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

6) To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

7) The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton

8) The Best of Roald Dahl - Roald Dahl

9) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

10) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

11) Funny in Farsi - Firoozeh Dumas

12) Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe


HAPPY READING!!!!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Add TED Ed to Your Classroom!

TED talks are an amazing multimedia resource that are sure to spark student discourse on a variety of real life topics.  In short, TED brings innovative speakers to deliver short but powerful talks (18 minutes of less) on issues that really matter.

Below are links to Ten TED Talk that students are sure to find inspiring, funny, and useful:

Cameron Russell: Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model  https://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_russell_looks_aren_t_everything_believe_me_i_m_a_model

Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership
https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership

Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit: the power of passion and perseverance
https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen
https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_how_to_speak_so_that_people_want_to_listen

Susan Cain: The power of introverts
https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts

John Green: The nerd’s guide to learning everything online
https://www.ted.com/talks/john_green_the_nerd_s_guide_to_learning_everything_online

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story
https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids
https://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak

Amy Cuddy: Your body language may shape who you are
https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are

Tavi Gevinson: A teen just trying to figure it out
https://www.ted.com/talks/tavi_gevinson_a_teen_just_trying_to_figure_it_out



Use TED talks to enhance your instruction and inspire students in any content area.  Who knows...the next TED speaker could be sitting right in your class!



For TED Talk classroom resources check out my TED Talk Bundle: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/TED-Talk-Bundle-3796241